On this day in my history, I was hospitalized for a psychotic break. I didn’t know it at the time; I thought I was going to a birthday party rather than the ICU of a psychiatric care center.
Today’s five-year, post-breakdown anniversary is a bittersweet reminder. I celebrate the absence of a re-occurrence, but recall vividly the horror of the injury.
The cause of the psychotic episode was determined to be bipolar disorder.
The name of that disease, its category of illness, and the shame of it all felt like more than I could accept in the spring of 2010. I certainly didn’t feel I would ever be right or normal.
However with medical treatment and a loving support system, I did learn I could be healthy and most importantly happy, genuinely happy even with a feared and disrespected illness as part of my whole.
I came to realize the man-made construct of control can be destroyed through a force outside of oneself. The savings account, the physical ability to work, the false sense of security.
I also learned how to rebuild with a more solid foundation.
I do not feel stronger for having survived. I am weaker — more timid, more hesitant, more fearful. I literally have come to accept I am, in fact, not strong enough to live without the help of medical treatment. I have learned I am not strong enough to live without love and support, which I both give and receive.
A sense of gratitude did emerge from the rubble. I thank God for each day I am able to wake up symptom free. I appreciate my family, my friends, and my vocation as a writer. I am indebted for the men and women who came before me to study,understand, and treat mental illness so those afflicted can live with health. I learned to see the beauty of nature, and through this I recognize the evidence of divinity.
The title of my book, “Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis” speaks to the temporary nature of psychosis, a fracture, something that can be repaired. A stress fracture — differing from other bone fractures — results from repeated pressure put on a bone, which over time causes a break. Psychosis can be like that; the repeated pressure of living with an untreated or mistreated mental illness forces a fissure in sanity.
The book was shared so others can recognize many of the symptoms of a chronic mental illness can heal. People with mental illness can live well and enjoy the view from a place of a healthy mind, body, and soul.
Happy spring; happy new life. For my Catholic friends, on Easter Sunday sing those Alleluias jubilantly.


A boy with dreams more than a few
Worked so hard ’til they all came true.

Yet, he held a penny
To cast among many.


He wished for more fortune to brew.

Summer Days

Cool swimming pool

Icy lemonade
Reading in the shade
Retreat to central air

Ornery friends

Sweaty hair and face  
Suffocating car space
Trapped in pollen air

The Journey of a Dream

The well-timed exit:

Dark Horse
No Chance in Hell
Moving On
Throwing in the Towel
Hanging up the Shoes

Cheering “Go For It!” and purchasing high end shoes, equipments, camps, and lessons to help the child pursue their dream of a NFL starring role, may not change the outcome. Encouraging him to try harder, do push ups, run track, visualize his dream coming true isn’t going to change circumstance. Let him try anyway, but then let him learn the tough lesson.

Look at the kid who is five feet tall his freshman year and weighs under a hundred pounds. Is this kid even making the high school team? A positive attitude and a display of hard work may earn his spot on the team, but is he ever getting off the bench?  Sure he can make every practice, may even get the second string line-up, but he isn’t going to outrun, out muscle the kid twice his size. He can wear the team t-shirt and travel on the team bus. He can pretend it doesn’t hurt that he doesn’t touch the game ball. No amount of mental aerobics and positive thinking is going to change his circumstance. No amount of mantras or feel good posters or bumper stickers or key rings is going to make it possible for him to play pro football. And that’s okay. Disappointment is okay.

The realization that we do not have super powers to overcome whatever obstacles exist is a healthy conclusion that allows us to be kind to ourselves.  Not being able to achieve whatever we want is not a sign of weakness, or a resolve to fail, quit, or give up. Dreams are something imagined and supposed. Moving on is liberating.

Dead end

Travel down a dead-end street
to see the end of the line.
Remember then to turn ‘round
to find what is most divine.



Sanity reclaimed!

After walls of self crumbled,

grace replaced chaos.

The Catholic Girls Guide

I acquired a leather-bound, pocket-size book with golden page borders from my great-grandmother Helen. It is called “The Catholic Girls Guide” and was edited by Rev. Francis X. Lasance in 1906. This gem has ideas that seem outdated by today’s standards, but I did enjoy the following passage on friendship.


“If you have to stand alone in an evil world, in the midst of dangers, temptations and snare, a good and true friendship will be highly desirable … You will more easily escape the perils of the world, you will more readily save your soul, if you are united to others in the bonds of pious and holy friendship, that so you may mutually warn, encourage and sustain one another, and stimulate one another to practice good works. True friends seek to promote the good and happiness of each other.”


I love the part about promoting good and happiness of each other and the notion of forming a pact against the evils of the world. The chapter continues:


“Be not hasty in forming close friendships, ‘but when you have found a friend,’ says a certain writer, ‘let neither death, nor misunderstanding, nor distance, nor doubt, nor anything else interrupt this friendship and vex your peace.’ Let their joys be your joys and their sorrows your sorrows.”


“A friend is one of the sweetest things that life can bring. A true friend is not only our comfort in sorrow, our help in adversity; he also recalls us to a sense of duty when we have forgotten ourselves, he inspires and encourages us to aim at high ideals, he takes loving heed of our health, our work, our plans and all that concerns us; he wants to make us good and happy.”


The book has devotions, free from actual bible verse, on all areas of woman’s life. While some modern feminists may take offense to the passages on marriage and vocation, some of collection’s wisdom is timeless, such as this exert on friendship.


My life is full with people who are beyond companions and really champions who want me to live a full and healthy life. I hope I return this sincerity in the friendships I hold. I post this today to encourage you to take assessment of those people in your life and hold them against this standard — you deserve people of this mindset in your life.
The passage ends with a short poem:

“Sweeter than the breath of spring,
Is the joy a friend can bring,
Who rejoices in your gladness,
And give solace in our sadness.”